Knaack Comes Through And Gives Phoenix Coyotes Another Chance

Christian Petersen

The lease between the City of Glendale and prospective Phoenix Coyotes buyer Greg Jamison passed via Glendale city council vote. The lease passed by a vote of 4-2. Jamison has until January 31, 2013 to close the purchase of the team and sign the lease with the city.

I will vote in favor of this deal. Eight simple words that reignited the Phoenix Coyotes pack. Those eight simple words were spoken by Glendale Councilwoman Yvonne Knaack, the lone undecided vote on the new arena management agreement with prospective Phoenix Coyotes buyer Greg Jamison. “I don’t think this is a sports issue, it’s an anchor tenant issue,” Knacck said. The lease passed by a vote of 4-2.

Councilmembers Steven Frate, Joyce Clark, Manny Martinez and Knaack voted in favor of the lease while councilmember Norma Alvarez and Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs voted against the lease.

The lease failed to garner enough votes to utilize the emergency clause therefore a citizen referendum is permitted. Glendale citizen Ken Jones stated that he would seek a referendum if the vote passed.

Now that the lease has been approved, it can be signed by Glendale Acting City Manager Horatio Skeete at any time. The lease does not go into affect until Jamison completes the purchase of the Coyotes from the NHL. It is written in the lease that the agreement must be signed by Jan. 31, 2013. If the lease is not signed by that date, the Glendale city council would need to approve any extension beyond Jan 31.

Jamison opened the public discussion by assuring the council that he was aware how big the decision they had to make was and that he would respect their decision. Jamison joked that he was pretty sure the council knew which decision he would like them to make. “The major league franchise has a very strong obligation to be a partner with the city in which it resides,” Jamison said. He added that hockey has a tendency to unite the community.

Scruggs asked Jamison if he would disclose his investors tonight; Jamison declined. Scruggs also questioned why Jamison had yet to purchase the team from the NHL. Jamison responded by saying that he did not close the sale because there was no lease in place until June 8, 2012. “When it is time to present the money and close the deal we will do so.” The prospective buyer hopes that he could close the sale of the team in 30-60 days.

Two significant changes to the lease agreement were presented on Tuesday night. The first fiscal year’s payment to Jamison will not be $11 million, but a prorated amount of that sum of money based on the date Jamison assumes control of the team. The payment for the remaining 19 years does not change. The second change is that all penalties associated with the minimum number of required events, will be waived for the current fiscal year. Those penalties will be reinstated at the beginning of the second fiscal year and throughout the remaining term of the lease. Skeete said that the event minimums outlined in the lease would be “unattainable” due to lack of time between fiscal years one and two of the lease. Glendale began its fiscal year in July.

A side-by-side comparison of the city’s bottom line with and without the Coyotes was presented at the council meeting. The presentation showed that the city would begin to gain positive fiscal benefit by keeping the Coyotes in Glendale starting in the seventh fiscal year (2019) of the agreement. Those benefits would continue to rise throughout the term of the lease. In fiscal year 2032 (year 20 of the lease) the Coyotes would benefit the city of Glendale by nearly $100 million as opposed to not having the team. For details on information presented at last Tuesday’s workshop, click here. For overall lease details originally presented in October, click here.

Five of the six council members were in attendance on Tuesday night with the only absence being councilmember Alvarez who joined the meeting via telephone. At one point in the meeting, Alvarez loosely compared the passing of the Coyotes lease to having Glendale youth joining gangs. Alvarez also stated that she wanted to delay the vote until after the December 4 city council workshop where more budget issues would be discussed.

Both Jamison and Clark received a standing ovation when they entered the council chambers. The night also saw a public speaker spontaneously begin quacking while addressing the council as well as a speaker calling the audience at the meeting “freeloaders” and compared them to the “47%,” a statement that former presidential candidate Mitt Romney made infamous.

Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney, Assistant General Manager Brad Treliving, COO Mike Neely and Ice Edge’s Anthony LeBlanc were in attendance for the meeting. Glendale Mayor-Elect Jerry Weiers was in attendance but did not speak.

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